Antisemitic Congresswoman Demands Answers After American Airlines Bans Palestinian Sweater

On Wednesday I wrote about an American Airlines passenger being made to remove to turn their sweatshirt inside out in order to fly on American Airlines flight 2829 from New York JFK to Phoenix. The sweatshirt said “Palestine” and defined it as, in essence, the whole of Israel.

American’s policy on passenger attire says “Dress appropriately; bare feet or offensive clothing aren’t allowed.” There’s not enough guidance to gate agents or flight attendants on what clothing is offensive, but in New York and in the aftermath of Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel, the employees interpreted the policy to include a sweatshirt that appeared to promote the elimination of the Jewish state.

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is now demanding a response from American AIrlines. (HT: Live and Let’s Fly)

[A] young man who I have known most of his life informed me that on his @americanair flight AA2829 home from New York, he was instructed by a flight attendant to remove his sweater that said Palestine on it.

Does American Airlines have a bias towards Palestinians? Is there a policy that enables this kind of targeting and mistreatment?

He was devastated and felt like the erasure of Palestinians in our country has no limits. I emailed @americanair and I’m waiting for a response.

The sweatshirt is a visual representation of the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestinians will be free.” This is the same slogan that Tlaib has used repeatedly, defended, and was censured by the House of Representatives for. It does not mean Palestinian freedom or a call for a Palestinian state (such as a two-state solution).

  • “From the river to the sea” means the eradication of Jews from the State of Israel.

  • It’s not ‘the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem’ it calls for Palestinian dominion of the whole of Israel.

  • And it is the battle cry of Hamas, that Jews must be removed from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

  • It derives from the Arabic chant that translates, “from the water to the water, Palestine will remain Arab.” It is a call to ethnically cleanse non-Arabs (Jews) from the land.

It is possible that someone ‘might mean something else by it,’ but Tlaib also knows this is how it is frequently used and understood. The leader of her own party calls it divisive, hurtful, and understood to be antisemitic. Twenty two House Democrats joined Republicans in censuring her over its use.

She stands by it even knowing how it lands because she means it. She was a member of a private Facebook group including Hamas supporters and Hamas financiers have raised money for her Congressional campaigns.

While I wouldn’t have made the same decision as flight attendants on American Airlines flight 2829 – in the absence of actual conflict amongst passengers, I would have let this particular person be an idiot and support terrorist kidnappers and murderers. While American Airlines might put out a statement generally about the incident, it shouldn’t respond to Representative Tlaib.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The analysis above is beyond the mental capacity of AA employees. The employees were just discriminatory.

    If the AA employees are well versed in the situation, that is different.

    Jewish dominated cities, like Tel Aviv and Haifa were not on the shirt.

    I am no fan of Hamas but the shirt is not what it is portrayed to be. AA once forced me to cover up a sign that I brought on board as a souvenir.

  2. Oh, FFS. Can I expect next that t-shirts with pictures of the American west on them will be banned on AA because after all genocidal treatment of Native Americans? Hey, can I be thrown off for wearing one with a picture of Henry Kissinger on it, given his wholesale destruction of SE Asia?

  3. Rashida can suck balls and I can only hope her entire family is wiped out so they don’t keep reproducing

  4. Gary.. curious how you concluded that wearing a shirt saying “Palestine” concludes you to judge this person as “an idiot and support terrorist kidnappers and murderers”

  5. Rashida Tlaib should be deported along with Omar. Both are a fifth column in this country and don’t belong here.

  6. Good on AA for seeing this trash and making them hide it/turn it inside out. “Let’s Go Brandon” items and MAGA hats can’t be worn either. This is CLEARY more than just because the word “Palestine”. It’s because of what it says around that, being a visual representation of “from the river to the sea”. That sweater might as well be a Swastika. Disgusting and good for the AA employees who saw it and acted.

  7. ‘Our voices will never be silenced’. Sounds a little hinky to me, perhaps not the young, innocent pax they’d like us to envision. And some idiot politician jumps right in for her share of the attention.
    Excellent, now the Palestine-wearing-shirt people will get the attention they seek. Got news for ya, guys, most Americans really don’t care much about people who have been at war with each other forever. Many of us wish you’d all take a long walk on a short pier. Barring that, we’d appreciate it if you just shut up.

  8. A private company has every right to say that offensive material cannot be worn.

    Calls for genocide are offensive. Pretending this is not a call for genocide means one of two things:

    The person doing it is a fool, or the person doing it wants to try to use decent people’s values against them to call for genocide.

  9. Can someone please explain to me how this woman won election to The House of Representatives? How F—cking stupid are the people who voted for her? I’m not an isolationist but I’m pro America; pro freedom and pro Israel. I’m completely in agreement with AA for making the sweatshirt come off! Would people defending the right to wear it on a plane rather see a fight break out onboard? Everyone has a short selective memory: 9/11/2001!! NEVER FORGET! After that shameful murderous incident, when flights restarted, being Arab or moslem and flying was taking your life in your own hands. The Arabs just launched another unprovoked attack against Israel and wearing a shirt promoting the demise of Israel and the takeover by Terrorists should be met with the utmost contempt and disdain!

  10. Should have let him continue wearing the shirt but made a donation to the IDF to continue bombing Gaza until it’s an uninhabitable wasteland. Hamas is no different than a rapid animal and must be completely destroyed.

  11. Let me bring up another angle here. Commercial airlines are considered “public transportation” and each aircraft must be certified as “public transport.” Add to this that the airlines receive tons of public money. So, although the actual airplane is owned by a private company, the system as a whole is public. So, I would argue that the airline can have rules about conduct and dress onboard that affects safely, but I would also argue that speech onboard cannot be arbitrarily controlled – unless they can make a good connection to the safety of the flight and its passengers. The shirt this passenger was wearing is a form of speech.

  12. Who doesn’t love a clickbait, politically-motivated headline.

    Being critical of Israeli government actions is both distinct and often far removed from being anti-semitic. Rashida Tlaib hasn’t been the only possible non-anti-semite critical of Israeli government actions. Millions of Israelis have been quite unhappy with Netanyahu government actions for quite some time, yet Netanyahu remains in power still in Israel. Netanyahu is a greater threat to Israel than a progressive liberal US Congresswoman from Michigan.

  13. I don’t really understand AA’s position on this. There are plenty of political clothing pieces people wear that are annoying and offensive to me. My god. “Let’s go Brandon” is offensive even if I’m not a biden fan. If you want to be that disrespectful of the elected president, go for it; but don’t hide behind a nascar race to hide your lack of civility.
    Frankly, anyone still wearing cargo shorts is offensive to me but that’s a separate issue.
    In my opinion, the Congresswoman should focus less on a t shirt and more on why she thinks it’s ok to call for the annihilation of a race and country with her Hamas slogans. Shame on her and any person that ever voted for her (her history and antisemitism on this issue didn’t start a month ago), much less anyone that didn’t vote to censure her in Congress for that specific phrase she used calling for the annihilation of the state of Israel. If she’s that dumb to not know what “from the river to the sea” means, then she shouldn’t be in congress or certainly shouldn’t be a member of a major political party. But she isn’t that dumb and knew exactly what it meant.
    She should have her free speech and I support it, but it shouldn’t be accepted and supported by the Democratic Party (the vast majority in the House didn’t censure her for that specific statement)

  14. Ignoring both the political and the 1A ramifications here, I would point out that this is a good example of why the Airlines need to look past the “typical flight” when negotiating FA wages. Sure, when everything is going well and the destinations (and accommodations upon arrival) are nice, you could maybe make the case that FA salaries should be modest. The reality, including situations like this, passengers behaving badly, rude treatment, crummy hours, nasty accommodations, etc, paint an entirely different picture. One would hope that the Airline Execs keep this in mind as they set FA pay scales.

  15. Gary, I know you’re a Democrat, but the party has left you. So many of your posts are calling out the ridiculousness of the Biden admin and the fringe left. What exactly in the democrat platform of pro-terrorism, pro-open borders, anti-free markets to you still agree with? Can someone on the fringe left please explain how you reconcile in your mind the contradictory values of being pro civil liberties, pro feminist and defenders of lgbtq, but then also defending islamist terrorists that want to implement very anti-woman, anti-lqbtq, and anti-religious freedom sharia law. Very strange bedfellows indeed.

  16. Don,
    I won’t argue w/ your conclusion but I will argue with your “facts”
    US airlines don’t receive tons of public money.
    US airlines received aid – just like virtually every other American during the covid era. Money flowed like water. And you got it too.
    Feel free to let us know when we as the public can control your speech since you, in fact, received money from the federal government.

  17. Doug’s comment above sounds like a disgusting call for murder. Doug, please get yourself some mental health checks before you do others and/or yourself physical harm or get a knock on the door from law enforcement for an incitement to illegal violence against “the other”.

  18. Any Americans who say like AndyS that “Rashida Tlaib should be deported along with Omar” are the fifth column in America. It’s treason against the US Constitution for an American to want to deport recognized US citizens and call for violations of the rule of law under the US Constitution.

    The real fifth column are those who have a thing for bashing ethnic and religious minorities in the country.

  19. @guwonder
    You can join rashida and enjoy the 72 virgins as well
    I was not inciting, I was hoping, and I still do, that she suffers a slow and painful death

  20. Doug,

    Anger and hatred — like the fear that drives it — is corrosive and does no one any long-term favors. Your posted anger and hatred is such that you really should think about getting some help about it. It’s not healthy to wish death upon so many “others”. Hope you feel better and happier after you learn to see more humanity in “the other” even when critical. That’s a way to be a healthy critic.

  21. Rashid Talib is still an October 7 denier and embarrassment to civilized socity.. She deserves to be banished from common discourse.

    She should voluntarily move back to Gaza to peach her brand of Nazi hate.

    I hope the IDF bombs her her FAT ass!

  22. @guwonder
    You have no idea how happy I actually am
    Healthy, great family and kids, very decent income, etc etc
    My sympathy for these barbaric animals run out on october 7
    You have the privilege of not caring, I don’t, I have friends and family in israel
    As I told you many times, never again means never again, and if the result is 20k palestinian dead, or 200k palestinians dead, well, so be it
    Never again means never again

  23. While I agree deportation makes no sense note that she’s providing support for a quasi-country holding US citizens hostage. I don’t know exactly where the line falls on treason but she’s certainly close to it.

  24. Speaking of fifth column in America, AIPAC should register as a foreign entity. As if 3.8 billion dollars worth of foreign aid per year isn’t enough, THEY still need to have their fingerprints on every aspect in our government. Would anyone be ok with AIPAC if it was China or Iran instead of Israel?

    Oh by the way, our so-called ally aka “only democracy in the Middle East” sells our US military technology to China. Such great friends we have.

    Bibi is laughing at how stupid and gullible the American people are

  25. @747always

    I believe you would feel differently if you your family was murdered in cool blood on October 7th.

    (Scum trash)

  26. AIPAC is the definition of fifth column. Why is a foreign country lobbying our politicians, especially when said foreign country receives $3.8 billion of aid from US every year and then turns around and sells our US military technology to China?

  27. Someone posts here about being fine with killing 200k Palestinians and people have the moral depravity to think the Muslim-American US Congresswoman of color is a problem while ignoring the real hate and call for illegal violence. Why doesn’t this surprise me.

  28. This brief summary doesn’t include the campaign donations from Hamas-linked groups Talib has received, or, the fund raising she has done for terrorist-like need groups.
    Her posts for River to The Sea are calls for genocide against all non-Muslims in Israel.

    Rashida Tlaib’s vile antisemitism has increased two-fold since featured the Congresswoman as its “Antisemite of the Week” back in 2019.

    In January 2019, Tlaib voted against a bill aimed at striking down Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) measures against Israel. She claimed this bill was created under the guise of dual loyalty— a dangerous antisemitic trope used against Jewish people that claims they are not loyal citizens of where they live and are tied to a global Israeli agenda.

    In December 2020, Tlaib quickly deleted a retweet that included the phrase, “From the River to the Sea – Palestine will be Free” — a genocidal call for the elimination of the Jewish state and its citizens.

    In September 2021, Tlaib voted against the Iron Dome Funding Bill. She was the only member in opposition to voice her reasoning from the floor, going on an antisemitic tirade against the Jewish State which included false allegations of apartheid living.

    In July 2023, Tlaib and eight other members of Congress voted against a bill that asserted the State of Israel is not a racist or apartheid state. The bill also expressed Congress’ rejection of all forms of antisemitism and xenophobia.

    On October 7th, Hamas violated a ceasefire agreement, leading to the slaughter and abduction of innocent civilians. Tlaib promptly held Israel responsible for these abhorrent acts of terror. As Israel defended itself, Tlaib falsely accused them of hospital bombings, which were later revealed to be the result of a failed rocket launch by Palestinian terrorists.

    Despite evidence to the contrary, she persisted in blaming Israel and did not advocate for the release of American hostages in Gaza. On November 3, 2023, Tlaib accused President Biden of betrayal and endorsed false claims of genocide, connecting it to Israel’s actions against Hamas. In a subsequent tweet, she stated that “From the River to the Sea” is a cry for freedom, contradicting its historical association with the elimination of the Jewish state.

    Thankfully, on November 7, 2023, one month after the savage Hamas terror attacks on Israel, Rashida Tlaib was censured for her remarks glorifying genocide against Israel. She became only the 26th member of the House of Representatives in U.S. history to be censured by her peers.

  29. Someone posts here about being fine with killing 200k Palestinians and people have the moral depravity to think the Muslim-American US Congresswoman of color is a problem while ignoring the real hate and call for illegal violence. Why doesn’t this surprise me.

    Because you are a doughebag that loves murder. Ypur ‘Congresswoman of Color” hates Jews!

    And that is why you are a Doughbag!

  30. AUS_Flyer, is it unbridled anger, ignorance or both that give you trouble with spelling douche bag? Given your errors, it seems like you may have intimate thoughts about Doug..

  31. Aus_Flyer,

    The consequence of being committed to democracy is that it requires tolerance of public nonsense. So speak on with your nonsense but get used to being criticized for it just like that “Texan” Elon Musk just back from hanging out with Netanyahu.

  32. @GUtlessWonder – “It’s treason against the US Constitution for an American to want to deport recognized US citizens and call for violations of the rule of law under the US Constitution.” Not even close.

    Article III, Section 3, Clause 1: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

    Ilhan Omar is a naturalized citizen and can have her citizen stripped and be deported if she was found guilty of certain crimes. There is a good case to be made she’s violated immigration law, but because of her political position, no one is willing to touch it for fear of “Islamophobia”. If she were a white Christian fundamentalist, they would have booted her long ago. She’s at much more risk than Tlaib by virtue of being a naturalized citizen.

    Rashida Tlaib is a natural-born American citizen, so there’s no way to deport her or strip her of her citizenship that I know of. Furthermore, treason charges are extremely rare, there have only been 12 convictions in the history of the US. Even Jefferson Davis wasn’t convicted. That’s not to say Tlaib is lily-white, there’s evidence she’s got ties to Hamas related agents and has fund-raised with them. No charges or convictions yet, but she seems to skirt the line, time will will if she’s crossed it. She might be a lawyer, but she graduated from the worst law school in America. Her fellow alum is that noted legal scholar, Michael Cohen. Bird of a feather, as they say, even if they’re on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

  33. AA was right. The sweater was confrontational and could have caused a conflict in the air that could be dangerous and avoidable.

    Would it be cool if I wore an anti BLM shirt? A Make America Great hat? A shirt criticizing the Me Too movement?

  34. Most U.S. passengers could not find any “Palestine” on a map, …nor Taiwan, nor Poland, nor Cyprus, nor ….., let alone any airport serving there.

    Given the tendency of most U.S. passengers to wear some odd combination of loose pajamas and tight anti-blood-clot support hose while revealing myriad tattoos and piercings, I somewhat pity unionized AA employees enforcing dress code.

  35. Some people don’t realize that the 1st amendment applies only to Congress and by extension to other government legislative bodies.
    AA is entitled to ban whatever it deems offensive whether that be too little clothing or something else. Still, some people find the existence of their fellow human beings offensive and would like to ban that.
    Members of Congress are sometimes too full of themselves for their own good. This one needs to learn how to behave in spaces and situations outside the federal government.

  36. I have had enough of this ‘travel’ blog when all you do is spit out hate speech against innocent Palestinians who have faced genocidal by a terrorist regime.

    What rubbish of a political blog you have turned your pages into.

    That’s the end of me following your blog. Good riddance to you and your terrorist-inducing, genocidal-supporting ideology.

  37. Doug get some MH Treatment. Your comments go to far. You are a very angry person. What Hamas did was unacceptable. What Israel is now doing wiping out the entire Palestinian race is just as bad. Two wrongs don’t make a right. As a conservative I never thought I would agree with anything that Rashida Tlaib said, but on this one issue I agree. AA and the rest of the woke American companies need to stop being the morality police. We rightly criticize many of the Arab countries for doing this and here we are doing the exact same thing. People can judge for themselves what is or isn’t offensive, but putting these ever increasing subjective rules out there is in American. GU Wonder who is usually my nemesis (lol) made some valid points here.

  38. To “Mets fan in NY”. Not only would it be cool but it would be your right to do so just as the person wearing a BLM shirt, Biden campaign button and carrying a LGBT / Pride flag. Personal choice goes both ways.

  39. @AUS_Flyer:
    > Someone posts here about being fine with killing 200k Palestinians

    I think you misinterpreted what they were saying. I don’t see that poster as “being fine” with it, but rather that Hamas use of human shields doesn’t mean Israel isn’t permitted to do what it takes to prevent another 10/7. Slimeballs don’t get to hide behind a bunch of civilians and act with impunity because the world press focuses on the dead civilians.

    Hamas picked a fight with someone they knew could smash them–and all the manipulators out there get people to side with them when that smashing happens.

    The real world generally consists of choosing amongst various bad options (if there’s a good option it’s usually simply taken without much issue so we don’t notice it.) Looking at an option and seeing that it’s bad doesn’t mean it’s the wrong choice.

    @H.T. says:
    > I have had enough of this ‘travel’ blog when all you do is spit out hate speech against innocent Palestinians who have faced genocidal by a terrorist regime.

    The side seeking genocide is those “innocent” Palestinians. And if they are innocent why did they capture **and hand over to Hamas** the escaped hostages?

    And you obviously do not understand the meaning of the word “terrorist”. Hamas is the side committing terrorism. It has a specific meaning and it’s not just a general term for violence committed by someone you hate.

  40. For anyone who thinks Israel shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing in response to Oct. 7, please answer this: How SHOULD Israel respond? What weapons or tactics should they use to avoid civilian casualties against a force that deliberately hides among them? Why do you believe Hamas is telling the truth? Haven’t you noticed that according to them, there have been NO military casualties, everyone is an innocent civilian? Are teenagers and women participating in military operations legitimate targets? Or are you saying if a force hides behind civilians, they’re out of bounds? And when have you held any Palestinian to the same standard?

    I’ll be waiting with baited breath for those magical weapons and tactics that only kill military targets and leave innocents standing unharmed when the military targets embed themselves in the civilian population.

  41. @C_M says:
    > I’ll be waiting with baited breath for those magical weapons and tactics that only kill military targets and leave innocents standing unharmed when the military targets embed themselves in the civilian population.

    I’ve asked various people about this and none of them have come up with any sane answers. It’s a fallacy I’ve seen often repeated–the notion that the side with most of the power inherently bears the blame because they should have found a better way. It’s the job of the side with the power to find the good answers–since the world is a good place they must exist. It’s a faith-based position, not subject to reason.

    Never mind that in the real world it only takes one to cause violence.

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